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From 5G and bezel-free phones to Android 2.0, these mobile trends will define 2017

Each new year kicks off with CES in Las Vegas. The trends that emerge during the show set the stage for all the developments that are to come over the course of the year. Although most smartphone makers tend to wait for Mobile World Congress in late February for their big announcements, we still see a lot of interesting developments at CES.

More: From smart cradles to contraction trackers, CES 2017 had tons of tech for parents

This year, at the Digital Trends’ booth, the DT Mobile team met to discuss the trends that will set the course of 2017. Here’s a breakdown of the major points we discussed:

  • 5G isn’t coming anytime soon: We’ve been hearing about 5G for years. Every year, we hear more buzz about the topic, but we never hear much about when we’ll actually start seeing the benefits of 5G speeds. The trials are finally getting started, but right now, 5G is very isolated to testing centers. It’s unlikely that 5G will be widespread by the 2020 date everyone talks about, but it is coming. The aim of 5G is to help facilitate the Internet of Things (IoT) so all your smart home devices can talk to each other and coordinate. Maybe 50 years from now, we’ll live just like the Jetsons.
  • Modular phones seem to be dead: LG’s G5 kicked off modular phones in 2016, but its failure to gain more useful mods sunk its ship. Google’s modular Project Ara died in the labs, too. The last man standing is the Moto Z from Lenovo and its Mods. Although it’s the best implementation of mods yet, the Moto Z and its Mods still require a lot of money and don’t offer very much. So, are modular phones dead? Maybe not just yet, but they sure aren’t doing so well right now. We don’t expect to see many modular phones in 2017.
  • Your next smartphone will look very different: Smartphone design hasn’t changed much over the past few years, but all that’s about to change. The Xiaomi Mi Mix is the first smartphone to use Elliptic Labs’ ultrasonic technology to remove proximity sensors from your phone, thus freeing up more space for the display. The end result is a nearly bezel-free phone that’s all screen. It looks absolutely stunning, and it’s the future of smartphone design. We expect to see many more bezel-free phones in 2017 and beyond. As for those foldable phones Samsung has been dreaming up for years, we could see one sooner than you think.
  • Android Wear gets a makeover: Android Wear looks pretty dated these days, but the update to 2.0 is coming soon. We checked it out on a Casio watch. You can read our first take here.

Watch the video for more talk about the future of mobile and wearables in 2017.